More than 240 Ukrainian guests living with hosts in East Devon will mark their Independence Day, exactly six months after Russia’s invasion.
On Wednesday August 24, it will be 31 years since Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The day will both show the UK's continued support for the people of Ukraine and will thank the British public for their continued support and generosity.
East Devon is in real need of host families in Exmouth, Cranbrook and Honiton. Especially those who are willing to have pets, in particular cats which were brought over by their owners from the war torn country.
There is a need for hosts who can help accommodate refugees already living locally who need to find a new host after their initial six months here. If you would like to express and interest or find out more information about helping a Ukrainian refugee please go to: https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine
There are currently 244 Ukrainian guests living in the district under the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, this is one of the highest numbers of Ukrainian guests in any area in the country.
Homes for Ukraine is a national Government scheme whereby Ukrainians fleeing the war in their home country find themselves willing UK based sponsors to live with, and then come and stay with them for a minimum of six months.
Cllr Paul Arnott, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) leader, said:
We hope that all our Ukrainian guests are settling into East Devon well, and are proud that so many of East Devon’s householders are welcoming them with open arms.
We hope that, despite the incredibly difficult circumstances, our Ukrainian guests are able to mark Ukraine Independence Day – at a time when they are fighting for their freedom.
National Government have given local authorities several duties to carry out under the scheme.
In East Devon District Council’s case this involves:
- EDDC's environmental health team carry out home inspection on every host’s property to make sure that’s safe and is suitable for the refugees. Welcome Visits and six-month in person welfare checks for hosts and Ukrainian guests. This includes providing any follow up support that the hosts or Ukrainian guests need. Such as help applying for Universal Credit, help finding a job, debt management, help registering with schools and doctors. The council also decided as an extra to do monthly checks by phone with the Ukrainian guests and host families to see if everything was going ok and if they needed any further support. This huge amount of work is carried out by Citizen’s Advice East Devon on EDDC’s behalf, along with a brand new re-matching scheme that aims to re-match Ukrainian guests with new Homes for Ukraine hosts where relationships have broken down or where the host has decided to stop hosting. Citizen’s Advice East Devon have a brand new, recently trained, team to support the hosts and guests as the number of refugee families quickly increased to over 100.
- The EDDC benefits team process the £350 monthly ‘thank you payments’ to hosts for accommodating the Ukrainian guests, and paying the £200 interim payment that every Ukrainian guest can apply for when they arrive in the country.
- Accurate record keeping, so they know where the Ukrainian guests are and what is going on with them.
- DBS and safeguarding checks are done by Devon County Council and the Government.
Cllr Arnott added:
Thank you to Citizen’s Advice East Devon for providing the Welcome Visits, welfare checks, wraparound support and new re-matching scheme to Ukrainian guests and host families on our behalf.
They are doing a fantastic job and have just scaled up their service to be able to cope with the amount of Ukrainian groups / families coming to East Devon going up from 31 to 120.
We have also given the Devon Ukrainian Association, who run the Ukraine Community Conversations Café in Exeter, a grant to help them run an event within East Devon to mark Ukraine Independence Day, and other cultural events.
The scheme is not without its challenges. Including the fact that at the moment due to the lack of an exit strategy from government, we will end up with more Ukrainian guests in emergency accommodation. We are communicating with our local MP and with other Leaders from throughout Devon to urge Government to take action on this and other issues with the scheme.
Dean Stewart, CEO of Citizens Advice East Devon said:
It has been a tremendous honour to be part of EDDC’s response to this awful human tragedy. We are visiting each household and hearing not just the terrible stories of how people arrived here from Ukraine, but also stories of kindness and generosity that they have experienced.
We have worked together with EDDC for many years, and that trust and familiarity allowed us to start quickly and to develop processes with them that ensured we could deliver an excellent service to both our Ukrainian guests and their hosts.